Only The Strong Will Survive

This past month I’ve been thinking a lot about strength. And my lack of it.

How it would frustrate me if I didn’t hit a big number on my lifts and set a new personal record, especially after weeks of training.

“I’m such a weakling.”

So back to the rack I go and try again.

Still, nothing momentous would occur. Proper form, great execution but no big amount of weight moved. Same with the following week.

“Why can’t I just be STRONG!?”

Then another week goes by and I try again. And STILL nothing major. I’m still pulling (or pressing) the same amount of weight.

“What’s the use?”

And then I thought, “What’s the point of even trying?”

But the story doesn’t end there. I go back and have gone back and tried and tried and tried again. It got me thinking though: This “weakness” mindset. I thought how if I let that little voice have it’s way, I would not have gone back. I could have given up and assumed this whole strength training/bodybuilding/weightlifting stuff is for the strong. And there is no place for the weak in that world.

Luckily, that didn’t happen because weightlifting IS a huge part of my life and one that I would like to never give up on. But what about those who have no desire to lift, no desire to be strong, no desire to even work up a sweat?

They would have given up. They would have assumed only the strong will survive anyways so might as well never bother. This is too hard, too difficult, impossible.

When you THINK and BELIEVE you are destined to be WEAK, destined to fail,  you start to think that you are inherently useless.  I’ve seen this a lot lately – People think because they are getting older, they can’t possibly hire a personal trainer because they aren’t young enough. And forget going to the gym “That’s for the young folks! That’s for the athletes! That’s for the people who have willpower!”

Or they have so many physical ailments that no amount of activity will do any good. So why bother? They resort to thinking, “If I can’t even work up a sweat, it won’t produce results.”

Or they aren’t smart enough to come up with a good workout plan on their own. So why bother at all? It’s easier to just go on the elliptical for 15 minutes and call it a day.

But here’s the bit that no one ever talks about:

Just because you aren’t producing anything, doesn’t mean you are useless.

We don’t have to constantly be moving and thinking and writing and working in order to be useful. We can be just as productive and get stronger in our mind, body and spirit by being still. Being quiet. Being silent.

I think the mind can play some tricks on you if you let it. I see, now, why my clients in the past would have a physical or mental setback and just quit on me. Even if they had a number of sessions left, they allowed outside circumstances affect them to the point that they just quit.

  • Perhaps it was financial – “I lost my job, I have to save some money before I come back to the gym”
  • Perhaps it was unsupportive family/spouse – “My husband thinks of this as a hobby for me and we should try and spend more time working/being with each other.”
  • Or a moment of weakness -“I cheated on my diet so badly, there’s no way I’ll get this weight off in time for my trip!”

Even if none of those clients came back, wouldn’t it have been great if they used this time to become stronger in other ways?

Stronger in their knowledge base in order to get a new/better job.

Stronger in their marriage/relationships

Stronger in their diet mindset.

The take home message: It’s okay to be weak! 

After all, if we have no weakness, how can we possibly grow in our strengths?

Mentally/Spiritually/Socially I have a lot of weaknesses. But for the sake of this post and speaking directly to my physical weakness, it’s my upper body. I’ve never had a strong back. But you know, after many years, its finally gotten stronger. I can pinpoint the moment I FELT stronger and GOT stronger – It was when I finally stopped and envisioned this muscle doing it’s job. I imagined and pictured it contracting and releasing. The next time I went to pull the weight, I didn’t rush it. I went slowly and methodically and it FELT different – I had finally FOUND my muscles! And I wouldn’t have found them if I hadn’t focused on resting and waiting and being still in that moment.

So here’s to leading with our weaknesses!

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

The Weak Made Strong

Isaiah 40:29-31

He strengthens those who are weak and tired. Even those who are young grow weak; young people can fall exhausted. But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.

Fit In Your Faith Today: In moments of weakness, we come to the Lord for help and for strength. Prayer is powerful and so is receiving the Eucharist. Studying scripture everyday, you may come across words like these to assure you of God’s healing powers but also His strength. In your weakest moments, rest in God’s embrace. He will give you the strength to carry on. He will pick you up when you feel like you have nothing left to give.

Be Not Afraid

Joshua 1:9

This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Today’s message is so simple, it really doesn’t need much commentary. How much more clear can you get? The Lord asks us to be strong and courageous. We have no need to be afraid of anything because HE is with us. Of course, you have to believe that He is with you. That might be the most difficult part to accept. We are so used to doing things on our own, we don’t like to rely on others. But God wants us to count on Him. He wants us to ask Him for help. How encouraging it is to read these words – The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Fit In Your Faith Today: What are you afraid of this week? What discourages you or causes you to doubt yourself? If you remember that the Lord is with you wherever you go, whatever situation you are in, it can help give you the courage to keep going. Don’t be afraid of taking the wrong action, be afraid of taking NO action. The hard part is listening to what God wants us to do. So be strong, be courageous in all that you do today and the rest of this week!

You’re Doing it Wrong: 5 Mistakes You Make in the Gym

gymmistakes

I recently observed a woman about my age at the gym recently who has been doing the same “routine” every time I’ve seen her. She always seems to manage to get the bench next to me in the weight room. And she always seems to be doing similar exercises at the same time I’m doing them. But that’s where the similarities stop.

I would say this woman is probably following a Tracey Anderson-type of workout, perhaps from that blonde idiot (sorry, not sorry) herself or maybe out of a magazine. Who knows, all I know is this woman looks like she needs help. Why? She lifts nothing higher than 10lb dumbbells. When she goes to the machines, she tends to do almost all of them and puts the pin in the top (lightest) weight. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to her routine. The amount of reps is more than 20 because I literally lose count any time I attempt to count how many reps she’s doing.

I vowed to myself that if I see her one more time, which would be the third, I would go over and attempt to help her. Because maybe she just doesn’t know….

Here are 5 things that I think people do wrong at the gym. And if you think you’re doing some of these, maybe this will help you because maybe you just don’t know either!

 

  • You go in without a plan. I’m talking no plan whatsoever – no sheet of paper, no notes on your phone, no workout journal, nothing. WHY?  You travel from machine to machine. Going through the motions, staring off into space, probably making your grocery list in your head because you don’t have a plan when you go there either. You’re here to workout, put some EFFORT into it, will ya? Don’t be Mr. or Miss Random. Get in, do the work, and get out. Get an actual program from someone who knows your goals and is knowledgeable and someone you trust. Preferably a personal trainer. (Want online training? I do that now too and I’ll have videos coming soon. Click here for more information) Magazine workouts are sub par for those on a budget. If you have sworn off hiring a PT, you should invest in one or two really good BOOKS with programs that you can follow. Here are two that I’m reading right now: Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. Obviously men wouldn’t purchase the latter recommendation although most ladies like a man with some a strong set of glutes on them. 😉  A couple other authors I really like are Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. Rachel put out one of my favorite books: The Female Body Breakthrough and her hubby Alwyn wrote what I consider the bible for women lifters: The New Rules of Lifting for Women.

Not a woman and want some recommendations? Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle mentioned above is appropriate for everyone but another good one –  The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle is geared towards men.

  • You have a routine…but it’s been the same routine for over a year. While there’s nothing wrong with being consistent, all of us could use a little update to our current programs. It doesn’t even have to be anything drastic with regards to the changes you’re making. But if what you are currently doing isn’t quite getting the job done, it’s time to update your ancient program. At the very least, you should be changing up the amount of reps or at least adding a more challenging weight. Repeat after me – Change is Good! I trained a woman recently who was doing the same program her old personal trainer had her on…3 years prior. She complained that nothing was changing at all and she was bored. No wonder! I’d be bored too if I did the same exercises day in and day out 3 years in a row too! When you can’t remember the last time you changed up the exercises in your current regiment, it’s time for an overhaul.
  • You don’t lift at all. Why are you even reading this blog? 😉  Seriously though, time to stop thinking you don’t need to lift in order to see results because I promise you, you do. Cardio will only get you so far. And no one is saying you have to lift super heavy. The woman at the gym I referenced earlier lifts nothing heavier than 10lbs. Based on appearance alone, I feel like she is MUCH stronger than that! I feel like there’s a little lion in there and it needs to roar, ha! She doesn’t seem like she has an injury that she’s recovering  from, her range of motion was fine. Perhaps she’s worried about getting “bulky.” Perhaps she doesn’t think she is CAPABLE of lifting that heavy. You have to start somewhere! You don’t need to grunt and sound like you are in pain everytime you lift…but you should look like you’re putting forth some effort to get those weights up. This is the only way you will see change. You. Need. To. Lift. Even if it’s your own bodyweight.
  • You have no idea about pre and post workout nutrition. I don’t care if you’re going for fat loss or muscle gain or maintenance – Anyone who works out knows that the best snack is your PWO snack (Post WorkOut). This is the time when you can enjoy the benefits of working up a sweat and repair those muscles. EAT your Carbs! Drink your Protein Shake! This is the BEST time to eat. I make sure I eat within 30 minutes of finishing up my workout. When I was training for my competition it would not be unusual for me to be eating my snack the MOMENT I finished my last rep, walking out the door of the gym, scarfing down that Pop-Tart or fruit snacks like they were my last meal. It was glorious! As for pre-workout, some people can get away without eating anything and still getting a good lift on but at the very least, you need to ingest some BCAA’s so you have some energy.
  • You don’t know what tempo means. I was guilty of this as well. I would get a good pump going on at the gym and go home and it was fine. But once I started getting coaching from Erik at LBC, and he instructed me on tempo when lifting, it was a game changer for me. I finally started seeing significant change in my physique. I finally started feeling a little sore too, which wasn’t a bad thing. Most of all, I FELT the muscles in my body working. You not only have to visualize your muscles working, you have to slow everything down and concentrate on the motion. Only then do you really appreciate what a machine your body is truly capable of being. Stop being in a such a rush when you lift. It just looks plain silly. Like this poor fella.

 

It never gets easier, but it does get better.

It Never Gets Easier

Truer words have never been spoken, especially when it comes to a large obstacle to overcome.

After being on a nutrition/cardio plan from my online coach for almost 3 months, I will say that it has most definitely not been easy.  But it most definitely has gotten better.  So today I celebrate the small victories:

  • I’m getting better at prepping my food; it’s actually a process I enjoy.  I guess I’m strange like that but I really like ORGANIZING everything, especially because most other things in my life are very DISorganized.
  • Getting better at posting and looking at the progress pics.  This was the hardest thing to get past.  At first I really did not like the idea of even having a blog let alone posting pics of myself in the state that I was in.  But after sucking it up, it doesn’t seem so bad.  And I wouldn’t say it’s better because I look better; it’s gotten better because I’m more comfortable with putting myself out there. Big difference.
  • Getting better at enjoying the process and not obsessing over “What time is it?? Is it time for me to eat?”  Case in point, I’m “overdue” to eat my next meal by 10 minutes.  And I’m sitting here typing all this out NOT worrying about it.
  • Getting better at managing my time.  When you are on a set schedule to eat and workout, you really find time management to be a key asset.  I’m probably better at planning out my day better than I have before.  And I refuse to let social media be the time waster that it can be.  I’ve definitely cut back on that, although if you follow me on twitter you know I still have some work to do in THAT area…. 🙂 But Facebook is getting easier and easier to avoid.
  • Getting better with patience with people who do not have the same fitness goals as myself.  Also getting better at becoming patient with people who have ZERO health and fitness goals.  This is a big one for me because I want to help everyone.  But I’m learning to accept that not everyone wants the help.  However, I will say the people who HAVE reached out to me for help are very grateful for the advice and do see me as doing something positive and inspiring.  So if I’m able to help at least ONE person, then it’s worth it.

 

On a side note:  Happy Valentines Day!  Echoing the words of some other bloggers, I will say I LOVE ALL MY FOLLOWERS! 🙂  Thanks for “Liking” “Retweeting” and “Following” my little journey, your support is appreciated and LOVED in return!

 

-Michelle